The Transportation Security Administration could achieve a significant improvement in commercial airline safety by implementing and enforcing uniform carry-on-item standards, instead of allowing individual airlines to determine what people can take into the cabin. Medical supplies, child care necessities and a large purse or briefcase might, for example, make up the list of allowed items. Items could be screened at several stops on the way to the gate, with the TSA security checkpoint being the final arbiter. The rules that limit the number of checked bags per passenger also might have to be revised to accommodate our new reality.

Almost everyone would win under this initiative. The airlines would be safer and better able to get their planes into the air on time. Passengers would no longer have to deal with people who insist that their property is too important to be checked. The only downside to this plan is that travelers would spend more time at baggage claim areas.

By allowing excessive luggage, shopping bags, rolling offices, sports equipment, musical instruments and other oversized objects into the passenger cabin, the airlines increase the risk that dangerous material will be available to passengers while helping to increase the inconvenience of modern air travel to nearly unbearable levels.


La Mesa, Calif.